Fierce winds are blowing the sloshing water up onto the dock and a thin mist of water keeps spraying me, making me nudge my old green Adirondack chair back farther and farther. It’s rare to see whitecaps on this little lake in the wilderness. Amazing to me, the birds are flying overhead, twirling and diving into the thermals of air, as if they’re at an amusement park on a roller coaster. It makes me wish I could fly. Wheeeee.

Deep, rich greens fill the distant shore as the tops of the trees are splashed with warm morning light. It’s early here, and it’s just me, the birds, and the sunlight. Everyone else is nestled in their cabins in their little brass beds and flannel bedspreads. 


This has been a week of weird weather. We’ve had massive thunderstorms and gully washers of rain, thunder that rattled the old cabin, winds that have toppled sailing boats, and cold fronts that took us from 90-degree heat to warm blankets and cold nights for perfect sleeping.

The Value of Storms

Life, like challenging weather, always sees some benefit after the damage of the worst of storms. And though the world at the moment carries with it lots of challenge, lots of turmoil and unrest, that’s not always a bad thing. It may seem like it, but I can guarantee good will come from what we perceive as bad. Rain brings nutrition and removes pollen from the trees. Winds clear out dead trees. Even lightning brings fire to forests in need of rejuvenation and new growth. 

Challenges bring about growth, and each of us will make adjustments in our thinking about how we perceive certain things. 

What have you faced in your life that seemed like a bad thing at the time, but turned out to be for the better?

Stop and think about what is upsetting you at this moment.

Is it fear?
Is it the unknown?
Is it anger?
Is it frustration?

We are creatures of comfort, and we squirm a little anytime someone makes us step outside of our comfort zone.

Change is the enemy for most, and we, as humans, will fight change to the death.

Your Favorite Chair

Imagine for a moment you are sitting in your favorite chair. It’s your comfort spot. It’s where you go to be cozy, to feel secure, to read or watch TV or converse with your family. Like an old pair of slippers or your favorite pajamas, it’s an extension of who you are. Then a burglar sneaks into your house when you’re out getting groceries. They don’t take the jewelry or the money or the expensive stuff — they take your favorite chair.

You feel violated. Part of your cozy world has disappeared. You search the city, you call the police, but alas, you find yourself on the hunt for a replacement for your perfect chair. But nothing compares, they don’t make that model anymore, a new chair won’t be broken in. 

Then one day you find something you feel is a decent replacement, and after a couple of days you turn and say to your family, “I should have changed chairs years ago. This is so much better, supports my back more, and is so much more comfortable.” All that drama over the old chair only to discover that you should have bought a new one five years ago.

Clinging to Old Ways

The world as it was is an old chair. The old world is something we cling to, the change is something you might not like, and it’s something that makes you uncomfortable. Yet, days, weeks, maybe months from now, you’ll have a new level of comfort. Things won’t be the same, but they will be just fine … just different.

The Big Embrace

Change may be the enemy for most, but embracing change can be the best thing to ever happen to you. Just like problems should be embraced as opportunities or lessons, change should be embraced as a chance to adopt a new outlook.

The key to embracing change is to become aware of what you’re resistant to and ask yourself if, maybe, a new outlook would serve you.

A Different Perspective

Start by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Ask yourself how they must feel. Ask yourself if changing your mind might be the right thing to do.

The Old Person’s Motto

I can remember being a teen and hearing old people say, “This world is going to hell in a handbasket” (whatever that means). “These kids today are going to ruin our world.” I told myself I was never going to be like that. 

The Young Person’s Motto

If you’re of a certain age, maybe you remember thinking your parents and grandparents were wrong, and that you were going to change the world. And you did. Now, maybe it’s happening to you. It’s the cycle of life.

What good can possibly happen with all the change? Maybe it’s worth pondering. I’m sure there is an answer.

You’re always just one decision away from a new outlook and a changed life.

Ask yourself if you’re looking for happiness in the same place you lost it. 

Like It or Not, It’s Happening

Our world is changing. Everything is impacted. It can be pretty overwhelming, but it will be easier if you stop clinging to the way things used to be and know that things change, and that everything will be all right.

Change is a river of new ideas that will push out the old and stale and bring in the new. Step up from the comfy chair and try on some new ideas. You might find them to be refreshing and invigorating, and even more fulfilling.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Please read this. I have a special favor and an urgent need.

The past 100 days have been, in many ways, the hardest of my life. I’ve had some really bad days and a lot of fear, but instead of cowering in a fetal position and avoiding my responsibilities, I’ve adapted. Pivoting has forced me to try things I had been resistant to, try new things that I never would have tried. Some of those things have turned out to be things I should have done a decade ago. 

As you may know, I feed my family from the proceeds of my small family-owned business. I’m not some big corporation. I know my employees, I know their kids’ names, and I take great pride and responsibility in making sure they can provide their families a good life. It rips my heart out when I have to disrupt that, which I had to do about 100 days ago to some very wonderful and loyal friends who work with our company. 

Since the in-person event business makes up the lion’s share of our ability to support these team members and their families, you can imagine that not being able to have that income has been devastating to our little company. In response to some who don’t want to travel (or can’t) and those who maybe don’t have the money or time to travel to one of our live events, if they’re allowed to occur, we created a virtual (online) event called PleinAir Live

PleinAir Live will take place July 15-18 (and the 14th for beginners) and is bringing the world of international plein air painters together as a giant community. I have the top outdoor landscape artists in the world teaching, giving critiques, talks, roundtables, and demonstrations. Names like Scott Christensen, Jill Carver, Sherrie McGraw, Kathryn Stats, Joe Paquet, John MacDonald, Kevin Macpherson, and many many more. And we’re tapping into the brilliance of the best instructors overseas with teachers like Roos Schuring from Holland, Leon Holmes from Australia, Haidee-Jo Summers from England, and Antonin Passemard from France.

This will truly be the first time the entire plein air painting community from all over the world has come together for one live (virtual) event. We will paint together, we will connect you with new friends, and we’re doing it for 1/10th of what you would spend to travel to the Plein Air Convention.

This event will not only get you truly involved in the plein air community, plein air painting, and learning from the best of the best, it will also help me keep my little family intact in case our in-person events are forced to reschedule or cancel.

It would mean a lot to me if you would attend. I know you’ll be glad you did, and you can do it for less than a nice meal out for four. But it will last as a lifetime memory, and it’s historic. And since most of us have not gone out much in the past three months, the money saved from staying in will make it easier. Please consider attending PleinAir Live

It’s so easy. You sign up at the website, and we send you a link to get into the event. It’s that easy. On the days of the event, you just click on your link and you’re watching on your phone, your tablet, your computer, or even your TV. 

It’s a little uncomfortable being so direct about how this will help us survive. If we’ve given you some joy or value over the months or years, and if you love or want to learn about art, this will make a big difference for us and our ability to continue doing all the things we love doing for you. 

Even if you just sign up for the beginners’ day and nothing else, it will make a big difference. 

Thank you for your consideration.